What is a “marathoner” anyway?

Workout notes: weights then 3 miles of running on the treadmill, 1 mile of walking.

Weights: pull ups: 4 sets of 10, rotator cuff
incline presses: 10 x 135, 6 x 150, 6 x 150
pull ups: 10
military presses: 2 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell (standing), 10 x 200 machine (seated)
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110

run: 3.21 miles in 30 minutes on the treadmill; 10:47 mile warm up, then 6.7 (5 minutes), 6.8 (to 2 miles) then 6.9-7.0-7.1-7.2 to 3 miles and 7.3 for the final .1
28:13 for 3, 29:06 for the 5K.

Walk: outside in the chilly fog; short sleeves.

Marathons: This 60 year old ran a 2:47 marathon. Yes, he was a competitive cross country runner in his youth. And yes, marathons are more numerous and the bigger ones are becoming more corporate.

And so the fields are larger, and the Law of Large Numbers applies: as the number of people who attempt marathons go up, the average person who completes a marathon is more and more…well..similar to the average person in society.

There was a time when marathons attracted the more fit (and younger, and more male); I remember my first one: 2229 men with a median finish time of 3:36; 201 women with a median of 4:05.

That isn’t the case any longer and some of the old school people (in this case, Craig Virgin) miss that era:


Here is my take There was a time when “marathoner” referred to someone who raced the marathon..and whose specialty was the marathon. I still think of it that way, though I also include racewalkers in that category if they specialize in the long distances and in walking them at maximum speed.

Now, the term is increasingly used to describe someone who finished the distance somehow.

Here is what the crux is: finishing a marathon (somehow) and going lights out for time (e. g. running it hard the whole way) are very, very different things. People who do the latter really are elite athletes (IMHO); I’ve never been a part of that group.

True, I did run a 3:38 as a 41 year old, but while I trained hard for that race and ran it to the best of my ability, I was really doing a “let’s go and hold on”; it WAS a tough effort for me, but as tired as I was and the pain I endured didn’t reach the level of those who push themselves “to the edge” like the elites do. (note: I reached “close to the near room” once in my life..different event though).

And now: yeah, my last “100 percent walking” marathon WAS hard for me and I did push myself. But in the scheme of things…let’s just say that I was relieved when I saw that I’d make it under the time limit. And no, what I did doesn’t compare to what a marathon specialist does.

So, I do think that Mr. Virgin has a point. BUT I still see the larger fields of people who are treating it like a strenuous urban “walk/jog/hike” as a good thing (like those old “go as you please” volksmarch events in Europe), even if we get some who try to think that their accomplishment compares with the accomplishments of athletes who treat the marathon as an athletic event.

Note: one of the ironic things is that *I* am one of those who helped “ruin” the event for the traditionalists. Yes, my time was 3:33, but that was the era when that was considered a “jogger’s time”. And people saw me (close to 200 pounds, built like an ex high school football player) finishing it and thought “if HE can finish a marathon, so I can I”.


November 3, 2015 - Posted by | marathons, running, walking, weight training | ,

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